Inconsistency has plagued Michigan all season long, and it was more of the same against Purdue on Saturday. Although the offense put together its best performance of the season points-wise and only disappeared for one quarter, the defense was terrible the entire game.
The defense allowed a third-string quarterback to compile well over 300 yards of offense and score 4 touchdowns, and also allowed Kory Sheets to run wild for 3 touchdowns. It did ultimately take a hook and lateral (or ladder, as some call it) for Purdue to beat Michigan, but the Boilermakers deserve all the credit in the world for executing that play perfectly. The play resulted in a TD that put Purdue on top 48-42, which is what the final score of this game would be.
- Much to no one’s surprise, Michigan opened the game by going three and out.
- On 3rd and 6, Purdue QB Justin Siller ran for 12 yards and was drilled by John Thompson. Siller fumbled the ball, and it was recovered by Donovan Warren.
- Michigan quickly capitalized on the turnover by scoring on the first and only play of the ensuing drive. Brandon Minor got the ball and ran for 45 yards and a touchdown, putting the Wolverines ahead 7-0.
- Purdue went three and out and punted the ball away to Martavious Odoms, who made a few Boilermakers miss and was gone. Odoms took the punt back 73 yards for a touchdown that gave Michigan a 14-0 lead.
- Needing to stop the bleeding, Purdue went down the field on its next drive and did score a touchdown. Justin Siller ran for 10 yards and completed a pass to Kory Sheets for a gain of 23 at the beginning of this drive, and then he found Joe Whitest for 16 more on 3rd and 12 a few plays later. Kory Sheets got the ball on the next three plays and eventually got into the end zone from 2 yards out to cut Michigan’s lead in half.
- A couple of penalties doomed Michigan’s next drive and helped cause a three and out.
- Purdue started moving the ball again but couldn’t get past the 50. Michigan’s defense came up with a big stop, but Martavious Odoms made a huge mistake on the punt. Odoms dropped the punt and a Purdue player recovered the fumble at the Michigan 14-yard line. The mistake was nothing new for Michigan considering how many special teams fumbles have happened before, but this one was especially devastating.
- Justin Siller ran for 10 yards and a touchdown only two plays after the Odoms fumble to tie the game up at 14.
- Boubacar Cissoko returned the proceeding kickoff 53 yards, giving Michigan’s offense great field position. The Wolverines moved all the way down to the Purdue 22-yard line before the first quarter came to an end.
- Michigan had 3rd and goal from the 11, and Steven Threet completed a pass to LaTerryal Savoy in the end zone for a huge touchdown. The Wolverines again led, this time by a score of 21-14.
- The two teams traded punts for the next few possessions before Michigan scored another long touchdown. After a 20-yard punt by Purdue gave Michigan great field position, the Wolverines struck quickly. Darryl Stonum caught a pass and broke a tackle to have nothing but green in front of him. Stonum took off and scored from 51 yards out altogether, giving Michigan another 2-touchdown lead.
- Just as we saw earlier in this game, Purdue woke up and started playing well again when they went down by 14 points. This time around the Boilermakers moved down the field thanks to a combination of things. Kory Sheets started the drive with three runs that combined for 30 yards. Justin Siller then completed a pass to Greg Orton for 10 yards, and Michigan gave Purdue 20 free yards as a result of a pass interference penalty and Tim Jamison jumping offside. Siller went back to the air for gains of 13 and 8 yards before Sheets capped off the drive with a 3-yard TD run.
- After Steven Threet was sacked and fumbled the ball, Michigan just let the clock run out. David Moosman recovered the fumble, but there was too big of a risk to try anything fancy. For that reason, Michigan decided to let the first half come to an end.
- Purdue opened the second half with another touchdown drive. Siller set up the eventual TD with passes to Greg Orton that went for 10 and 35 yards. Shortly after the big passes it was 3rd and goal from the 7, and Siller found Sheets out of the backfield for the touchdown. This game was tied once again.
- Michigan had to punt after failing to pick up a first down following a 21-yard run by Brandon Minor. U-M would get the ball back after its defense finally was able to stop Purdue, but the Boilermakers downed their punt at the 1-yard line. All Michigan could do was run the ball, which resulted in a three and out.
- With outstanding field position, it wasn’t too tough for Purdue to find the end zone again. A combination of Siller and Sheets was all Purdue needed to move down the field, and the drive ultimately ended on a 5-yard Sheets TD run that gave the Boilermakers their first lead of the game.
- Michigan started the fourth quarter with a quick touchdown drive to tie things back up. A 45-yard kick return by Martavious Odoms ended the third quarter and gave Michigan a short field to work with. Brandon Minor made that field even shorter with runs of 9 and 11 yards. Michael Shaw came into the game and picked up 2 yards before Steven Threet pitched the ball to Toney Clemons for a gain of 8. Minor got the ball back on the very next play and ran into the end zone from 12 yards out for the TD, tying things back up.
- Purdue and Michigan both went three and out on the next two drives before the entire dynamic of this game changed. The Boilermakers did actually go three and out again, but Purdue faked a punt on 4th and 8. The snap went to linebacker Anthony Heygood instead of the punter, and Heygood took off for 61 yards. A few plays later it was 3rd and goal from the 4, and Justin Siller completed a pass to Greg Orton for the touchdown. The score put Purdue on top 42-35.
- The Wolverines needed to score a touchdown on their next drive since it was doubtful that the defense could come up with another stop. Knowing that there may not be another chance to tie the game, Michigan went for it on 4th and 5 at the 50. Threet completed a pass to Stonum for 10 yards to move the chains. Purdue would actually keep the drive alive for Michigan a few plays later, as Gerald Gooden got flagged for roughing the passer. He nailed Threet well after the pass was thrown, and instead of it being 4th and 14, Michigan got an automatic first down.
Following a 13-yard run by Threet, Michigan had trouble moving the ball and was faced with 4th and 10. A pass intended for Greg Mathews was incomplete, but a flag once again kept Michigan’s offense out on the field. A Purdue defender got called for pass interference, and although it looked like a weak call from one angle, I was glad a flag was thrown. Brandon Minor scored three plays later from 1 yard out to tie the game at 42.
- With 1:20 left in the game, I could sense that Purdue was going to score. I figured they would go down the field and kick a field goal as the game ended, but I never would have imagined what actually happened. Siller completed passes for 18 and 20 yards to put Purdue in Michigan territory. Following a 3-yard run by Siller, the unthinkable happened.
Siller completed a pass to Greg Orton, who proceeded to lateral the ball to Desmond Tardy. Tardy was sprinting across the field when he got the pitch and was able to run 28 yards into the end zone untouched. The hook and lateral gave Purdue a 48-42 lead (the extra point was blocked) with only 26 seconds remaining.
- Purdue squibbed the ensuing kickoff, and Michigan got the ball at its own 35. Steven Threet took a sack to start the drive but made up for it a bit by completing two passes to Greg Mathews for gains of 11 and 14 yards. The completions put Michigan at Purdue’s 47-yard line with 4 seconds left, meaning the only hope remaining was for a Hail Mary to produce a touchdown. Threet heaved the ball downfield, and it was knocked down in the end zone, clinching Purdue’s 48-42 victory.
To say this game was disappointing would be an understatement. Not only did Michigan lose at the hands of a third-string quarterback, but they got beat on a hook and lateral. On top of that, this loss was Michigan’s seventh of the season, meaning they are guaranteed a losing season. The bowl streak is now over, as is the winning seasons streak that dated back to 1968. To make matters even worse, Michigan has to win out to prevent this from being the losingest season ever in the program’s history.
Although things can and probably will get much worse this season, Saturday was really as close to rock bottom as it can get for the defense. They gave up 522 total yards to an offense that was led by a third-string QB. And it’s not even like Purdue did anything special. Justin Siller had a very limited playbook to work with, yet everything he did was successful.
The defense switched to a 3-3-5 stack for this game and that only made things worse. It’s pretty clear that Scott Shafer has lost control of Michigan’s defense based on the switch to a 3-3-5 alone. He hasn’t necessarily been thrown under the bus publicly, but the fact that the defense’s base against Purdue was something Shafer never usually runs is very telling. Rich Rodriguez has obviously had a say in the overall scheme of the defense to an extent, leading me to believe that Shafer is on his way out. My guess is that he will not be back next year, and it honestly wouldn’t surprise me if he was fired before the end of the season. Things are that bad right now.
Michigan will attempt to pick up a win at Minnesota next Saturday in the battle for the Little Brown Jug. The Golden Gophers are coming off a devastating loss to Northwestern, so hopefully they will still have that on their minds on Saturday. Kickoff at the Metrodome is set for noon ET on ESPN.